Paronychia is one of the most common infections of the hand. Paronychias are localized, superficial infections or abscesses of the perionychium (epidermis bordering the nails). Paronychial infections develop when a disruption occurs between the seal of the proximal nail fold and the nail plate that allows a portal of entry for invading organisms.
Noninfectious causes of paronychia include contact irritants and excessive moisture. Clinically, paronychia presents as an acute or chronic (longer than six weeks’ duration) condition. People with occupations such as baker, bartender and dishwasher seem predisposed to developing chronic paronychia. Treatment may consist of warm-water soaks, antimicrobial therapy or surgical intervention.